The Radnor House: the Old Store, Red Lion Hotel, Pennsylvania Railroad station at Morgan’s Corner at King of Prussia Road

The first of the three interesting old deeds referred to in last week’s column, at present in the possession of Paul Thomas, of “Radnor House”, is dated February 20, 1878. It is the record of sale or what is now the “Old Store,” Radnor, and of “Radnor House.” This sale of the entire property was made in 1878 by William W. Montgomery and his wife, Rebecca, “of the Township of Radnor,” and Theodore D. Rand, “of the City of Philadelphia, to Theodore F. Ramsey, of the Township of Radnor.”

At that time $3750 bought “the two story messuage or store-house, stone stable and other buildings thereon erected, situate in the Township of Radnor aforesaid bounded and described as follows…” The ground was approximately that now occupied by the Old Store and Radnor House. It is interesting to note that “the said Theodore F. Ramsey hereby expressly covenants and agrees… that neither the said Theodore F. Ramsey nor his heirs nor assigns holding said lands shall at any time hereafter forever erect or maintain any building for the sale of intoxicating drinks, nor suffer any intoxicating drink to be sold in any building on said premises.” This seems a far cry indeed from the days when the present Old Store was the historic Red Lion Hotel and a gathering place for convivial souls of the neighborhood!

According to the next deed, these same premises were sold a year later by Theodore F. Ramsey and Sallie, his wife, to Effie G. Yarnall, “of the City of Philadelphia,” for $7,500, exactly double the price paid by Mr. Ramsey. The third old deed in the possession of Mr. Thomas is one of lesser importance, having to do with the sale of additional land in 1884 by William W. Montgomery and Theodore D. Rand “and wives” to this same Effie G. Yarnall.

Interesting as these three deeds are, they are antedated by almost 200 years by the record of a grant of land made by the government to one David Davis, the first owner of the property on which the Old Store stands. This was in August, 1695, five years after the original grant of 50,000 acres was made by Charles II of England to William Penn. In 1681, a Richard Daves (or Davis) obtained 5,000 acres of these 50,000 from Penn.

These Davis holdings were in what is now the Ithan section of Radnor township, and it was from this Davis that John Jarman purchased 100 acres on which the Ithan Store is located, at the intersection of Conestoga and Radnor-Chester roads. Here in this old stone building, John Jarman’s son was the first male child to be born in Radnor township.

Although it may be but a coincidence of names, it seems more than likely that this David Davis and Richard Davis were related, perhaps even brothers. At any rate, it is a matter of historic interest that the properties on which two of the oldest stores in Radnor township are located, the Ithan Store and the Old Store at Radnor, were originally owned by men named Davis.

Radnor township itself took its name from Radnorshire in Wales, whence came many of the Quakers of the colony founded by William Penn.

The homes of these early Welsh man were scattered through Radnor township. The first ones were built of logs hewn from great trees in the thick forests through which the Indians were still roaming.

Many of the sturdy small stone houses built shortly after, are still to be found. Two, particularly familiar to the motorists on Lancaster avenue, are located on the northwest corner of King of Prussia road and Lancaster avenue, at the Main Line Golf Club, and the other at the southeast corner of Radnor-Chester road and Lancaster avenue.

With the completion of Lancaster stone turnpike in 1794, travel between Philadelphia and Lancaster passed directly between the northern and southern sections of Radnor township. Then, with the completion of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in 1820, a station was immediately located at Morgan’s Corner, as that section of Radnor was then known.

02_image01The picture illustrating today’s column shows the Philadelphia and Central Railroad station at Morgan’s Corner as it looked in 1856. The road crossing the tracks at right angles is the King of Prussia road. This picture has been lent to your columnist by the Radnor Historical Society, which received it from Howard S. Okie of the St David’s Church Historical Committee.

(To be continued)

(Mrs. Patterson would welcome any stories and pictures of Morgan’s Corner, later known as Radnor, in order to make her account of this section of the township as complete as possible. Her telephone number is Wayne 4569.)